Raptors 109, Timberwolves 104: Raptors redeem themselves at home

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 30: Kyle Lowry
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 30: Kyle Lowry /

After a loss in their previous outing, the Toronto Raptors started slow but finished strong with a 109-104 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Toronto Raptors started off slow in the first quarter missing eight three’s. Shots weren’t falling for the Raps as the Minnesota Timberwolves took advantage with a 27-19 lead.

"“In the first half we were soft as tissue,” said Raptors head coach Dwayne Casey. “We really didn’t have a physicality, wasn’t into who we were guarding… We were kind of watching and guys were slashing in and laying the ball up and there was no resistance at the rim.”"

The Raptors allowed the Timberwolves to just to score to easily in the first half, mostly relying on cuts to the basket to get a lead. The Wolves shot just 5-12 (41%) from three; However, the Raptors came out firing, shooting a total of 9-29 (31%) from deep.

Gorgui Deng came up big time for the Timberwolves scoring 14 points off the bench in the first half. Finally, with a spark from Fred VanVleet, while trailing into halftime 57-51, the Raps started to turn things around.

"“We got together as a team and we just felt like we could do a little bit more,” said VanVleet. “We had some good conversations about things we could sharpen up but overall about better effort, more fight, more hustle in the second half and close this team out.”"

VanVleet would finish the game with 10 points, two rebounds and two assists in 21 minutes. Even with the birth of his daughter Sanaa Marie and his lack of sleep, he provided energy and effort. Jonas Valanciunas would rack up a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Unfortunately, with CJ Miles out with a sore knee OG Anunoby had a pretty quiet game. However, Norman Powell would step up, pulling up to make a clutch three to give Toronto a six-point lead with eight minutes left in the fourth.

The Raptors big three all contributed to the Raptors comeback as well.

DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors in points with 23 and added four rebounds and eight assists. Kyle Lowry led the team in assists with nine, and added three rebounds and 15 points. Serge Ibaka finished with 15 points, six rebounds, and three assists and a clutch block against Jimmy.

What really stood out from the Raptors was their clutch defense against Butler and Andrew Wiggins. Jimmy would finish the game with 25 points, five rebounds and six assists in 38 minutes. Wiggins would finish with 15 points, eight rebounds, and two assists shooting 31-percent overall and 16-percent from three.

It seemed there were opportunities for the Timberwolves to still slip back into the game. Butler received three free-throws after a controversial call on Lowry that left fans chanting “Refs you suck!“. However, Raptors lucked out, the 87% free-throw shooter managed only to hit 5-10 (50%) FT’s that night.

When the Raptors gave their comeback lead some cushion with Jakob Poeltl’s tip lay-up, Wiggins and Butler went into panic mode. The Raps did an excellent job of covering the Wolves duo, absolutely shutting down both in the fourth quarter.

Serge Ibaka made a big-time block on Jimmy while attempting a lay-up with 1:47 left, giving Toronto the confidence boost they needed.

After performing terribly late in the fourth, Butler let the ball run through Canadian-Native Andrew, and he hit a three with 1:01 left. With the Wolves only down by two, 103-101, DeRozan made a jump shot with 41 seconds left to help seal the deal.

Wiggins attempted two three’s after, but to no avail. DeMar and Jonas would convert on their free-throws and give the Six a 109-101 lead. The Wolves managed to squeeze in a quick three made by Wiggins, but the game was already sealed.

Next: How much will Raptors need to pay Fred VanVleet

The Raptors improve to 34-15 and look to beat out their conference rivals, the Washington Wizards Thursday Feb. 1, 7 PM ET.